ASEAN Secretariat, 20 March 2012

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ASEAN and the United Nations share many goals and common objectives, and although the two differ in size and complexity, there are still many areas where the two organisations complement each other. This opens up opportunities for the two bodies to exchange ideas and cooperate on many issues.

This is the understanding that emerges after a meeting between United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and ASEAN Secretary General Dr Surin Pitsuwan. The UN Chief is currently in Indonesia with a team of senior advisers.

The two leaders met over breakfast with their secretariat staff. Dr Surin updated Mr Ban on his observations and discussions with government, opposition and business leaders during a February 2012 visit to Myanmar.

Mr Ban said he will be visiting Myanmar after the April by-elections. The two leaders agree that changes are underway, and both expressed optimism that all the stake holders are in agreement to improve the livelihood of the people.

“I am very much encouraged by my meeting with President Thien Sein, and I am glad to see that he has kept his words,” added Mr Ban, noting that some countries are pondering over the lifting of sanctions.

N120320bDescribing Timor Leste as a “robust democracy”, Dr Surin noted that ASEAN Member States are seriously studying Timor Leste’s application to join ASEAN. Closer ties between the young country and other ASEAN member states are being forged, “and new leadership emerging out of the current elections, will maintain strong interest in ASEAN”.

The two leaders also discussed the latest situation on the Cambodia-Thailand border dispute, as well as the progress on the ASEAN Initiative on establishing the Institute of Peace and Reconciliation in which the UN would offer assistance, expertise, experience and best practices in preventive diplomacy—a priority on the UN agenda.

Noting the positive exchanges between the two secretariats since the ASEAN Summit in Bali in 2011, the two leaders agree to explore further cooperation.

“There are many areas where we can–and should–exchange ideas and tap each other’s experiences in tackling issues,” said Dr Surin, agreeing that the two Secretaries General would meet again on the sidelines of the UN meetings in June and September in New York.

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